7-year-old with congenital heart defect to be honored at WKU football game Friday

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.-“She wasn’t even expected to make it out of the hospital, let alone 7 years old,” said mom Kara Ainsley. 

Meet Rykar Ainsley. She’s being honored as Norton Children’s Hospital Superhero at the Western Kentucky University football game Friday. 

“It’s kind of hard with her just with her complex brain injury so she doesn’t fully understand so she loves to see people having fun and running and playing and stuff so I think she’ll enjoy seeing everyone have a good time,” said Kara. 

Rykar was born with an extremely complex congenital heart defect and also a chromosome deletion. 

“There’s a couple parts to it but one big part of it was that she was born with a hole in her muscle wall that separates the two pumping chambers,” said Dr. Brian J. Holland, MD, one of Rykar’s doctors. 

She had open heart surgery at five months old that didn’t go as planned…she went into cardiac arrest. 

“I was kind of hugged and told don’t expect a whole lot,” said Kara. 

She survived, beating the odds and since then has had over 35 surgeries. 

Now her mom says she’s a happy, and ‘sassy’ girl.

“She’s kind of bossy,” laughed Kara. 

One of her biggest supporters is her older sister, who’s on the dance team at WKU. She’ll be rooting for Rykar on Friday. 

“I think she’ll be excited once she sees my oldest dancing. She loves to watch her dance at home so I’m hoping that she’ll see that and think this is fun,” said Kara. 

It’ll be a game to remember. 

“I think she’s gonna soak it up. It’s really gonna be great,” said Dr. Holland.